Sikkim Assembly Speaker K T Gyaltsen performed the bhoomipujan ceremony of the multipurpose hall of West Point Senior Secondary School in Gangtok on March 12. The hall is being constructed by the Indian Express Citizens Relief Fund with contributions from its readers.
Gyaltsen thanked The Indian Express for selecting the school and said that the effort would address a long-pending requirement of the people of the region. The hall will serve as an auditorium and an emergency shelter for local residents,the need for which they felt when an earthquake devastated the region in 2011.
Readers of The Indian Express had raised Rs 40 lakh for the quake victims of Sikkim and the state government suggested that the money could be used for constructing a multipurpose hall at the West Point Secondary School.
The Speaker lauded the role of The Indian Express in the freedom movement and said it made Indian democracy vibrant through its independent,fearless investigative reporting. He also commended the work by the newspapers Citizen Relief Fund.
Speaker Gyaltsen asked the Education Department to use the building for training students in Buddhist art and for conducting workshops.
When the newspaper decided to raise funds for relief work after the earthquake,we did not anticipate the kind of response we got. The response from our readers across India was an overwhelming,humbling and reassuring experience, said The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta in a message which was read out at the function. Reaching out to people through projects that change their lives is just an extension of what we do through the newspaper everyday, Gupta said.
Swadesh Talwar,head of Express Archives and project-in-charge of the Citizens Relief Fund,said the 3,500-sq ft hall,estimated to cost Rs 79 lakh,is expected to be completed in nine months.
S B S Bhaduria,Secretary,Land Revenue and State Disaster Management Authority,said the building will serve as a model for such projects in the future. He said financial constraints will not come in the way of the project.
In her vote of thanks,Pemba Lhamu,the principal of the school,said her students would not have to run in the middle of their performances once the auditorium is completed.
The Indian Express Citizens Relief Fund,with readers contributions,contributed 11 ambulances to the tsunami-hit areas of Tamil Nadu,helped victims of Mumbai blasts,built citizens war memorials in Pune and Chandigarh and provided additional facilities to disabled soldiers rehab centres.